Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Pigeon Whisperers

This winter in Montreal something strange has been going on. It appears that some of the homeless people have started to train pigeons and keep them as pets.

The first encounter I had with The Great Pigeon Whisperer was at 12:30 am just off the platform of my home metro station. There is an escalator to go up the mezzanine, and then stairs up to the street. Next to the escalator is a set of stairs that can be used when the escalator is under repairs or when it's really busy. That night there was a guy sitting in front of the bottom stair next the escalator with some bags around him. He appeared to be talking to the bags. Once I got closer it was apparent that he had a pigeon perched on his right hand, and was gently cleaning the pigeons face with his left. Around his knees were two more pigeons that were just standing there waiting for him.

How did this guy bring three pigeons down into the metro? Had he traveled from another station with them? What was he doing with the pigeons? Was this really happening?

Since this happened about three weeks ago I have seen three more Pigeon Whisperers in the downtown area. The most recent was on Sunday night. I was walking home down Saint Catherine street and see a young man walking towards me. He looked like the world had opened up for him. Everything was good. And there was his pigeon, lovingly grasped in both hands, close to his chest.